Characteristics Of Tomorrow’s Leaders

Polish up your leadership skills now for future success.

Look at the leaders who manage successful companies worldwide. Successful companies are led by leaders and managers with outstanding personal and entrepreneurial characteristics such as people skills, decision-making abilities and great personal qualities.

When it comes to leaders and “wannabe” leaders during a management succession process, the leaders of tomorrow must have, acquire, practice and sharpen their business and personal characteristics. Otherwise the succession process for them will be blocked. The reasons are obvious:

— The heavy investment the family normally has in its enterprise.

— Responsibility of many families, including the owners counting on income from the business.

— The customers relying upon the service or product.

Recently, Development Dimensions International, a global human resources consulting firm, conducted an extensive study of the best leadership practices of strong leaders worldwide. DDI polled more than 4,500 leaders and more than 900 HR personnel in public and private organizations from 42 countries. Here’s what they found out:

■ 53% of internally selected leaders fail due to poor people or personal skills.

■ 53% cited that failure was due to poor personal qualities such as style, attitude or habits.

■ 43% cited leaders who couldn’t get results.

■ 36% cited failure from the lack of skills to do the job.

■ 33% noted failure from poor strategic or visionary skills.

Practices that Create Success
If these are the characteristics that cause failure when not developed, what are the most common successful practices and characteristics that help create success?

■ 85% of the organizations use formal training and workshops to develop leaders.

■ 77% cite the use of special projects or assignments within the candidate’s job responsibility as being “highly effective.”

■ 91% of those surveyed who had mentors or personal coaches said the experience benefited their careers.

Companies with high-quality leadership development programs and formal succession management programs have superior business performance. Examples: return on equity, profit margins, etc.

Highly developed personal and business characteristics and practices must work hand-in-hand for leaders of companies to be successful short-term or long-term. Yet when it comes to using assessment tools to support leadership development, companies stay away from the personal characteristic side of the equation. “We stay away from those soft issues so we don’t offend anyone on a personal level,” said one respondent.

Yet this study points to the ability to work with, influence and lead people on a personal level as the number one characteristic or practice of current leaders, a quality that the leaders of 2007 and beyond will need to be successful.

Gases and Welding Distributors Association
99b_henningmike Meet the Author
Mike Henning is president of the Henning Family Business Center, located in Effingham, Illinois, and on the Web at www.mikehenning.com.